Truth Test: Mike Coffman’s Mythical ACA “Replacement”

We wrote last Friday about Rep. Mike Coffman’s so-called “listening tour,” underway this week to gain insight on the effects of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado ahead of upcoming votes to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health reform law. Coffman’s “listening tour” stood in contrast, among many other contradictions, to an ad campaign running in Colorado right now praising Coffman for a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare that they claim he already has.

Obviously, only one of these can be true!

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman took a critical look at this pro-Coffman ad campaign last night in a Truth Test:

CLAIM: Our healthcare system isn’t working. Mike Coffman has a plan to fix it.
VERDICT: Overstatement

Mike Coffman doesn’t have a plan to replace Obamacare, but his staff points out he “does have some very specific principles that he expects to see included in the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.”

That is not the kind of thing you’d write if the plan was actually done…

Coffman’s office told us he wants to keep the changes Obamacare made for pre-existing conditions, the ability for parents to keep children on their plans until age 26, and maintaining coverage for people who gained it under the ACA—including the Medicaid expansion, which has been criticized by some of Coffman’s fellow Republicans.

In any case, we’ve seen some G-O-P proposals to replace Obamacare, but since they haven’t settled on one we can’t really fact check those promises yet.

Rittiman goes on to debunk most of the horror story bullet points in the ad, or at least give them some context. There’s no attempt to bridge the enormous gap between what Coffman says he wants preserved from the ACA and any GOP replacement plan that’s been publicized. In the end, the spot is fundamentally deceptive to the point of quite honestly being a waste of everyone’s time:

And that gets us to the bottom line: this ad is glossing over the fact Republicans have yet to unite behind a plan on healthcare in an effort to make you think it’s going to be awesome, no matter what plan they end up with.

Because it’s…wait for it…not “Obamacare!”

As long as you pesky reporters don’t ask any more questions, this should all work out fine.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 21)

You have only one shopping day left until George Washington’s birthday. Now, let’s see if we can’t Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congress is taking a break for its annual President’s Day Recess, but that doesn’t necessarily mean elected officials such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are likely to make themselves available to constituents. As the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports, local residents are so incensed with Gardner’s inaccessibility that they are planning their own town hall meeting as protest. The Denver Post has more on Friday’s town hall meeting (sans Gardner):

Organizers invited U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who declined, but Farnan said it’s important to hold it anyway so that residents can share their ideas and demonstrate that town halls still matter.

“You should be standing in front of your constituents and hear what they have to say as long as it’s civil and respectful,” Farnan said.

Aides to Gardner said the Republican senator has meetings this week with the Colorado Space Coalition, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Colorado Health Care Association — to name a few — but no public forums. [Pols emphasis]

But they defended his outreach efforts and noted his past use of telephone town halls, a tool that has become an increasingly popular substitute on Capitol Hill.

You may not have any real access to your own U.S. Senator, but if you’re lucky, you might get invited to listen to him talk on the telephone! That’s pretty much the same, right?

Unfortunately for Sen. Gardner, this routine is wearing thin across the state. In the meantime, Colorado residents show no sign of letting up on demonstrations and protests.

 

► Before leaving Washington D.C. last week, House Republicans released a vague outline of a proposal about what to do with Obamacare if they end up repealing the health care law. On Monday, former South Carolina governor and current Rep. Mark Sanford admitted in a television interview that he could not guarantee that the Republican health care plan would allow all Americans to keep their current health insurance coverage.

As The Hill explains, Republicans may have a hard time convincing constituents that this vague new plan is even half-baked.

 

► We all know that campaign finance loopholes are big enough to accommodate whatever metaphor you prefer, but some paid campaigns are so brazenly sketchy that it’s hard to believe they could exist. For example, this barrage of advertisements promoting Walker Stapleton’s campaign for Governor apparent interest in term limits. The intent is so obvious that even Republican-aligned groups like Compass Colorado can’t help but applaud the name recognition boost for Stapleton.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

CPAC Conference? Call It The Beau-PAC Conference!

Bob Beauprez (right).

With the upcoming 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington making headlines after disinviting their keynote speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, those of us with Google alerts tracking two-time Colorado gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez are getting fresh updates. As Politico reported yesterday on the controversy:

Milo Yiannopoulos lost his keynote speaking slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference after tapes surfaced of the right wing provocateur and senior Breitbart editor advocating for sexual relationships between “younger boys and older men.”

“Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the group which sponsors CPAC, in a statement Monday afternoon. The group called Yiannopoulos to “further address these disturbing comments,” but defended its original decision to invite him as a nod to “the free speech issue on college campuses.”

…President Donald Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, will be headlining this year’s event, along with top White House aides Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus. But the Milo controversy quickly threatened to taint the event and raised questions about what it would mean if other speakers still attended.

CPAC organizers had a conference call at 1 p.m. on Monday to discuss the controversy and how to address it, according to a GOP source familiar with the matter. The decision to disinvite Yiannopoulos was unanimous and did not even need to be deliberated, the person said. Among those on the call were ACU board members Amy Frederick, Bob Beauprez, Mike Rose, Matt Smith, Matt Schlapp and Becky Norton Dunlop, along with Vice Chair of the ACU Foundation Millie Hallow. [Pols emphasis]

To have been a fly on the wall for that conference call! There hasn’t been much coverage of the Yiannopoulos meltdown in local press, which is odd since he just toured through Colorado on a college speaking tour that generated plenty of earned media. But it seems to us that somebody should pick up the phone and ask American Conservative Union board member Beauprez what led to their unanimous decision to ban this guy.

And if you happen to be headed to CPAC this weekend, you can catch Beauprez as the moderator of this truly fascinating panel discussion on Saturday morning:

We can’t explain the ID of Beauprez as the representative of Colorado’s 10th congressional district, since Colorado only has seven congressional districts. Perhaps it’s an acknowledgement of how long Beauprez has been out of office? We digress. Anyway, we are of course very interested in hearing what Beauprez and Rep. Ken Buck have to say about border security.

In…Heaven. Aren’t you at least a bit curious?

Radio host should call crazy on Coffman’s comparison of Petraeus to Clinton

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Last week, the Trump Administration decided against offering the job of national security adviser to former CIA director David Petraeus, after the retired four-star general indicated he wanted to have authority over personnel.

Patraeus was Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-Aurora) favored candidate for Trump’s national security adviser–despite Patraeus’ resignation from the CIA as the FBI was gathering evidence that Patraeus leaked classified documents to his biographer with whom he was having an affair.

“I’ve worked with general Patraeus,” Coffman told KNUS host Krista Kafer Feb. 14. “I know he had a misstep, obviously, in terms of working with classified information. Much less than what Hillary Clinton did [laughs]. And he was certainly disciplined for it. But I think he’s well-trusted here on Capitol Hill, and I think by the American people as well. I think he would do a great job as the national security adviser to the president.”

(Listen here at 5 min 20 seconds.)

Kafer should have pointed out that unlike Clinton, Patraeus faced felony charges for his leaks, eventually agreeing to a plea-deal conviction.

FBI Director James Comey, who’s no friend of Hillary Clinton, and other experts have stated that Patraeus’ actions shouldn’t be compared to Clinton’s use of a private email server. She faced no charges, much less a conviction. And she didn’t hide documents in the attic. CNN reported on Comey’s testimony on this topic in July:

Comey pointed out that Petraeus not only shared the classified information, but also hid the documents in his attic and then lied to investigators.

“So you have obstruction of justice, you have intentional misconduct and a vast quantity of information,” Comey said. “He admitted he knew that was the wrong thing to do. That is a perfect illustration of the kind of cases that get prosecuted.”

He added: “In my mind, it illustrates importantly the distinction to this case.”

Kafer should have called crazy on Coffman’s comparison of Patraeus to Hillary Clinton.

Walker Stapleton Rides The Term Limits Pony: Please Clap!

TUESDAY UPDATE: GOP-aligned advocacy group Compass Colorado spills the beans in an email update today:

Our Colorado State Treasurer, Walker Stapleton, is now the voice behind a new ad campaign promoting term limits. The ads will run across the state. Considering that Treasurer Stapleton is a likely gubernatorial candidate, the campaign will help boost his name ID across the state. [Pols emphasis]

Which is the whole point of course, but you’re not supposed to say so.

—–

Regular readers are no doubt aware of the ad that’s been planted at the top of our site more or less continuously for a number of days now, advertising a rally on March 9th at the state capitol for usual-suspect conservative message group U.S. Term Limits:

About a week into the ad campaign promoting this “grassroots” rally, the art switched to a new theme: join Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton at the term limits rally, which is still paid for by U.S. Term Limits:

So, for starters, we can dispense with the notion that U.S. Term Limits exists to propose any kind of workable limit on the terms of members of Congress. Such a major change to the legislative branch would require a constitutional amendment, either through ratification by two-thirds of the states or by a “convention of states”–the latter being the official position of U.S. Term Limits, though it has never actually been used in American history. USTL claims further that their convention would be restricted to their pet cause, but there’s no legal way they could actually guarantee that.

Meaning the whole exercise is silliness, based on the one overriding fact that term limits poll well with (no nice way to say this) low-information voters. In states like Colorado where we have term limits in our own General Assembly, the effects of the policy are overwhelmingly negative–creating a climate in which lobbyists and political pressure groups have more experience running the government than lawmakers themselves.

Some of our longtime readers will remember a previous ad campaign from U.S. Term Limits, a large buy in support of U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer in 2008. Their “Thanks, Bob” ad (which said nothing about term limits) was parodied and laughed at generally in a race Schaffer went on to badly lose, as well as provoking an FEC complaint. But it was a good lesson in the true purpose of the organization–which is to support favored Republican candidates of Howard Rich, a New York real estate developer and member of the board of the much larger right-wing advocacy group the Club for Growth.

With protests related to government…you know, stuff (better for Walker Stapleton to keep that as vague as possible) raging throughout the land, we can understand why this “grasstops” organization run by and for well-heeled Republicans is trying to insert itself in the action. Once the organization’s true motives are unpacked, though, it’s pretty easy to understand that this is a cynical campaign vehicle–funded by a New York billionaire to support George and Jeb Bush’s cousin’s political ambitions.

And that could dry up the grassroots enthusiasm.

Another Busy Saturday of Protest in Downtown Denver

Two back-to-back well-attended protest events in Denver yesterday to note for the record–the first was in the morning, starting outside Denver Pavilions with a “flashmob” dance then marching to Civic Center Park. One Billion Rising explained their event’s goals:

Our focus in Denver this year is honoring and standing with our indigenous sisters, especially our sister Red Fawn Fallis, who is currently a political prisoner in North Dakota. Red Fawn is a human rights advocate, organizer and a community leader within the Oglala Lakota Sioux. She grew up in Colorado and was raised in traditional Lakota ways, grounded with love and a deep connection to the earth and all living things. Her mother Troylynn Yellow Wood, taught her the importance of fighting for social and environmental justice.

After the One Billion Rising Event, the PA system in Civic Center Park was handed over to the Defend Our Constitution March, more directly focused on President Donald Trump and his historically unsteady first few weeks in office. After rallying in the park, as FOX 31 reports, protesters marched to the First Unitarian Church a few blocks away to show support for Jeanette Vizguerra, an undocumented immigrant who has sought sanctuary there:

Protesters marched from Civic Center Park to First Unitarian Church to show their support for a woman who sought sanctuary inside the church to avoid being deported.

Several hundred people gathered for the rally. Organizer Queen Phoenix said the march was all-inclusive with protesters rallying for everything from immigrants’ rights to the constitution.

“There are so many different venues that are hurting us and offending so many different groups of people,” said Phoenix…

Vizguerra addressed the crowd outside the church on Saturday. She said the image of all the people standing on the front steps of the church will stay in her memory forever.

“It’s very emotional, see very much people coming, and express your support, your love, it’s very emotional,” said Vizaguerra.

If you missed out on the action yesterday, don’t worry–tomorrow is President’s Day, and the “NOT My President’s Day” rally tomorrow at 5:00PM at the Colorado State Capitol is forecast to be a pretty big deal.

Then Tuesday, the weekly protest outside Sen. Cory Gardner’s offices resumes. And Congress is in recess, giving local citizens (in theory, anyway) more chances to make their voices heard. Not to mention a whole new week of news from Washington to create new motivations to protest. After weeks of unrelenting action since President Trump took office, amounting to the greatest season of protest in modern American history, one thing we’re increasingly sure of is this is not a fad.

Until Trump stops frightening America out of our usual complacence, it’s the new normal.

Gardner has had “number of great conversations” with Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Asked by a conservative radio host this morning to “characterize his current relationship with President Trump and his team” and whether Gardner was a “persona non grata,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said:

Gardner: “Oh, I’ve had a number of great conversations with the President. The opportunities to work together are real. He is very, very clear that he wants us to be successful in Colorado and that we have the chance to do things that will make our state a better, stronger place.”

Gardner’s warm comments about Trump come as the President is battling journalists and after weeks of protests in Colorado against both Trump’s actions and against Gardner himself for backing Trump and voting with him 100 percent of the time.

Told by KNUS 710-AM host Craig Silverman that citizens are “clamoring for a town-hall meeting” and protesting, Gardner did not indicate he’ll hold town hall meetings, as requested by citizens who’ve jammed Gardner’s phone lines since Trump took office.

“We’ll continue to reach out across Colorado through meetings and offers to have appointments throughout the eight offices we have in the state–and also making sure we’re reaching out via tele-town halls,” said Gardner, adding that it is “great that people are interested.”

“Tele-town halls provide us with a great way to reach thousands of Coloradans at one time instead of just five or 10 at one time,” said Gardner.

Republicans across the country are turning to tele-town halls, instead of actual town hall meetings, where they’ve been greeted by large numbers of citizens upset about Obamacare, cabinet selections, Planned Parenthood cuts, and more. Images of large crowds and defensive lawmakers have viralized across social media.

Gardner has apparently been irked by some of the protests he’s faced, labeling callers and protesters as hailing from California and New York and as being “paid,” with some hired via CraigsList or tricked into calling via computers and surveys.

Asked if Gardner has the kind of relationship with the President that allows Garder to “kid around with Trump,” Gardner told Silverman, “Oh, absolutely.”

“I think it was on television even, on Tuesday, before the inauguration, the president introduced me to a crowd and talked about being able to work together for the common good of Colorado,” said Gardner on air. “And that’s something we will continue to do.”

“Overall, we have got to make sure that we to come together as a country the way [Trump] talked about on i guess it was Wednesday, November 9, after the Election,” Gardner said.

“You always leave me in a good mood,” Silverman told Gardner at the end of the interview, asking that the Republican to remember him to his family.

Mike Coffman’s “Listening Tour” Horse Has Left The Barn

Rep. Mike Coffman

With Congress about to head into a contentious recess and protests raging across the land over Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Mike Coffman announced this week a “listening tour,” hoping to undo some of the damage from a disastrous public event in Aurora a few weeks ago that netted Coffman nationwide bad press:

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06) announced that during the district work period scheduled for Feb. 20-24, he will undertake the first phase of his planned “listening tour” regarding the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Coffman will use this series of meetings to gain the perspective of as many constituents, patients and healthcare professionals as possible.

“During this district work week, I look forward to meeting with many healthcare providers and patients advocacy groups. My objective is to personally hear from them on how the ACA has affected the healthcare system, medical professionals, and most importantly, how it has affected patients access to medical care. I will use their input not only to review my own plans on how to proceed, but also to communicate their concerns to my congressional colleagues—Additionally, I want to communicate again that no repeal will take place without first having a replacement.”

As has already been noted for the record, Coffman’s “listening tour” next week is not expected to include any kind of open forum where constituents could express themselves to Coffman and be heard publicly while doing so. While that would seem to undercut the legitimacy of any “listening tour,” there’s another, more basic problem.

Doesn’t Coffman already have a plan for Obamacare?

That’s a half-page ad than ran earlier this month in local MediaNews papers, congratulating Rep. Coffman for his “plan to deliver quality, affordable, patient-centered health care.” The ad invites constituents to “thank” Coffman for “proposing access to a quality, affordable health care plan.”

Except he hasn’t proposed anything yet. If he had, why would he need a “listening tour” to figure out what to propose?

Look, we understand the only thing this demonstrates is that Republicans are all over the map when it comes to their central campaign pledge to repeal a law they have spent the last six years demonizing with no regard for fact. Cheerleading from the right-wing media complex about the imminent repeal of Obamacare has been waylaid by the reality that a better plan is not only elusive, but maybe impossible–especially within the narrow range of “free-market” possibilities under consideration by Republicans.

It would be nice to see this acknowledged in the press, instead of pretending there is anything like a consistent message here.

“Draft Ed” Movement Pushing Perlmutter for Governor

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

UPDATE: The Gazette has corrected their story with the appropriate Facebook link. We have adjusted the excerpt below to reflect the change.

—–

As Peter Marcus reports for the Colorado Springs Gazette, an online campaign to convince Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) to run for Governor is growing quickly:

There seems to be more of a buzz surrounding the Jefferson County Democrat these days, though Perlmutter has been playing things close to the vest.

A Facebook page has been created, “Draft Ed Perlmutter for Governor.”

“Run, Ed, Run! Ed Perlmutter’s always a true congressman with character. Now a whole lot of us want him to be a governor with guts. Draft Ed for Gov!” the page states.

“Ed’s district has always been a top target for House Republicans. And he’s always won it, and BIG! If nominated, Ed Perlmutter will keep the Governor’s Mansion blue — and he’ll stand up to Donald Trump like few others can,” a post on the page states.

Backers of the page are even paying for Facebook sponsorship status, though who the backers are has been a mystery to many in the Jefferson County Democratic community.

The link provided in the story above directs readers to Perlmutter’s congressional campaign website; we’re assuming this is a mistake and is meant to point to this “Draft Ed Perlmutter for Governor” Facebook page instead.

 

Get More Smarter on Friday (February 17)

Have a nice President’s Day Weekend; try the meatloaf. Now, let’s see if we can’t Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► As the Associated Press reported this morning, President Trump is considering mobilizing the National Guard — as many as 100,000 troops — to undertake mass deportation efforts across the country. Colorado is one of the states listed in the draft memo obtained by the AP.

Again: The President of the United States of America is considering deploying the military to conduct mass roundups and deportations across the country. This is all kinds of wrong.

 

A “shit sandwich.” That’s how Vice Admiral Robert Harward viewed an offer from President Trump to become the next National Security Adviser — an offer Harward publicly declined — which leaves the Trump administration scrambling to find another candidate for one of the most important jobs in the White House. The resignation of former NSA Michael Flynn highlights a massive credibility problem among national security experts, as the Washington Post explains:

Multiple former national security experts conjectured that the hang-up specifically was Trump’s deputy national security adviser, KT McFarland, a TV commentator who has not served in government since the Reagan era. Few foreign policy professionals consider her qualified for the job. [Pols emphasis]

…Harward certainly knows the struggles that Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson have had hiring their own staff — neither has an announced deputy; Harward was not about to subject himself to the same micromanaging from the White House. Former State Department official and vocal Trump critic Eliot Cohen says, “It makes it very difficult for any serious person to take the job under less reasonable conditions than Harward seems to have demanded, i.e., control of staffing.” He explains, “No sane person would take this extremely important and difficult job without (a) control of staffing, and (b) eliminating or neutering Bannon’s shadow NSC staff.” …

…Harward’s decision reflects how far the president and this administration have fallen in the eyes of esteemed national security experts, including current and former officials. The White House is without an experienced chief of staff or normal internal decision-making procedures. [Pols emphasis]

 

► Congress is preparing for its annual President’s Day recess, which will keep lawmakers out of the nation’s capitol until February 27. Before he skipped out of town, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) released a video in which he declares that he will not support a repeal of Obamacare without a concurrent replacement plan. The New York Times on Thursday reported on a potential new GOP healthcare plan that would redirect money from the lower- and middle-class to the benefit of the wealthy in America.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Worst Construction Defects Bill Ever?

Denver’s Beauvallon, a construction-defects horror story.

Denver7’s Lance Hernandez reports–the issue of reforming state law as it pertains to homeowner rights to sue builders over defects in the construction of their homes, in particular multifamily residential developments, has been an annual flashpoint in the Colorado General Assembly for several years. Lobbyists for construction companies claim it’s “too easy” to sue over defects, while homeowners say the only “problem” is that builders don’t want to stand behind their work.

After some talk of bipartisanship on the issue early in the session, Republicans in the Colorado Senate “moved beyond” the compromise that had been agreed upon between themselves and the Democratic House, and introduced legislation that would crack down on homeowner’s rights. Among those bills, GOP Sen. Jack Tate’s Senate Bill 155 might be the shortest in length–and the most brazen in terms of screwing homeowners:

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, and Rep. Lori Saine, R-Weld County, seeks to redefine the term “construction defect” to mean, “a defect in the design or construction of any improvement to real property that causes damage, the loss of use or personal injury.”

“It’s absurd,” said Fort Collins homeowner Michael Pretz. “You have to have a bad outcome before you can consider it a construction [defect].”

Pretz said he and his neighbors sued their developer because some of the attics in their townhomes didn’t have adequate drywall between the firewalls, and because retaining walls were not built with adequate anchors.

“I worked in the fire service for 35 years,” he said. “When you get a fire that goes unchecked from unit to unit, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Pretz said under this proposed bill, you wouldn’t have any recourse unless there was a fire that caused significant damage. [Pols emphasis]

Requiring homeowners to suffer the consequences from a construction defect before being able to sue to fix it goes against any reasonable policy goal of harm reduction–for the sole purpose of reducing the liability of construction companies to situations where their shoddy workmanship has actually hurt people. We think most people would agree it’s a lot better to get a known construction defect fixed before it hurts people, even if that’s maybe not the most financially advantageous situation for construction companies.

It’s one of those bills that’s so bad you can hardly believe a legislator had the gall to put their name on it.

And yet here we are.